Journey through the history of Puck Fair

Kevin Hughes

IT'S been over two years in the making and features a wealth of information dating back almost two millennia, including facts that are sure to impress everyone, from the Puck Fair aficionado to the uninitiated.

'The Puck Fair - Ireland's Oldest Celebration' has been a labour of love for Ballintcleave native Jerry Mulvihill (28) and the result is a colourful, detailed collection of facts, stories and pictures about the 10th, 11th and 12th of August - dates that are embedded in the psyche of Killorglin people.

At over 200 pages and containing over 200 photographs taken by the author and also provided by The Killorglin Archive Society, the National Library of Ireland and Killarney photographer Don MacMonagle, the publication brings the reader on a journey from Puck's origins through to the 21st century. The hard back book also includes illustrations by Geraldine Cooper Sheridan depicting scenes such as Cromwell's men coming to Killorglin and goat rituals during druidic times.

"In the Killorglin area Puck Fair is marked on the calendar with an excitement and anticipation that can only be matched at Christmas and so I have tried to fully capture its magic and wonder as well as its history and glory," Jerry says.

"There is a lot of fresh research and information and many people may even find themselves, or their ancestors, included in some of the photographs inside," he adds.

Containing many little-known facts about Puck, there are also colourful interviews with various historical experts and a section on the Travelling community who are an integral part of the festival.

Jerry has also provided a history of Killorglin outside of Puck Fair and so included is the oldest photograph ever taken in Killorglin - the construction of the iconic limestone bridge. There is also a special 'then and now' photo gallery featuring photos of Killorglin in the early 1900s and today - a perfect tool for budding history students.

During his research, Jerry says he came across many facts that may well be worth further study.

"Killorglin was once occupied by The Knights Templar and a Knights Templar church lies in the Dungeel area. It's something that the researchers in Trinity College have shown an interest in and they are now considering further investigation into this building," he said.

A budding painter and poet, this is Jerry's third book and several of his original pieces are are also featured.

'The Puck Fair - Ireland's Oldest Celebration' will be launched by Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan at an open event, featuring live traditional music, at 7pm in The Red Fox Inn this Friday, June 27. Complimentary food and wine will be served and guest speakers are lined up on the night. Jerry and Geraldine Cooper Sheridan will be signing copies on the night.